Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Center and the "Elites"

According to Ross Douthat and Jonathan Chait, I don't exist. At least when it comes to politics.

I tend to be one of those people that probably cause Douthat and Chait to roll their eyes: I tend to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Douthat has written on various occasions that basically those types are persons are should just join the Democrats and be done with it.

It can be frustrating for people like me, because while I'm definitely put off by the social conservatism of the Republicans, I am also uncomfortable with the economic policies of the Democrats. In some ways, I am one of those persons that longs for a viable third party.

Former Clinton advisor Mark Penn opines that if the economy doesn't get better soon, we might see a third party arise. Now I've heard that before and nothing ever does really happen, but what did ring true in Penn's piece is the feeling that there is number of people out there that feel without a political home.

Rubbish, says Chait. Most of the so-called independents are really well-heeled Republicans and Democrats:
...pollsters and public opinion experts -- a group that apparently excludes Penn -- understand that independent self-identification largely reflects a desire not to be seen as a closed-minded, automatic vote. It does not, however, reflect actual voting independence. Most self-identified independents are at least as partisan in their voting behavior as self-identified Democrats or Republicans. It's largely a class phenomenon, with wealthier and more educated voters being more likely to call themselves independent, but not more likely to go astray in the voting both. The rise of independent self-identification has little to do with voters moving toward the center or the parties moving toward the extremes. Plenty of those self-identified Democrats in the 1950s voted for Ike.

I don't know about that. There are a lot of people that I know that call themselves "independent" and yet are more partisan than they care to admit. But there are also a lot of people who do truly feel homeless. They vote for one party more than the other because they might agree with that party over the other one, but they are truly not affiliated with either major party. Others are people whose votes go all over the map. I tend to see these homeless people in my daily life, on the blogs and among friends.

Chait and Douthat both have stressed that the "socially liberal/fiscally conservative" group is just made up of upscale snobs, while both parties ignore another group: "big-goverment social conservatives." I'm always a little skeptical of such a group. Maybe it does exist. It could be made up people from the working class that don't tend to haunt the blogs.

That said, I have never seen them interviewed, or create Tea Party-like groups demanding that we ban gay marriage and enact universal healthcare.

I do not understand the aversion to people like me.

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